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Cleomaceae Bercht. & J. Presl 1835
the stinkweed family
The name of the family, taken from the type genus Cleome, is probably derived from an ancient Greek name for a mustard-like plant. These plants were formerly included in Capparaceae, but raised to a distinct family after the examination of DNA evidence. Some authorities include the new family in Brassicaceae. Cleomaceae are mostly evil-smelling herbs. The leaves are stipulate, alternate, mostly palmately compound with 3 – 7 leaflets. The flowers are either radially symmetrical or zygomorphic. The plants are found worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions, with a few species in warm temperate, generally arid, regions. The unpleasant odours of many members of the family have given rise to names such as stinkflower, stinkweed and skunkweed. Clammyweed is another common name, that refers to the sticky stems and foliage of some species.
Cleome viscosa - Tick Weed
Illustration from Chapman's Flora of the Southern United States 1860
Page last updated 8th October 2014